Granddad Plays too…
I was told we were going to Trinidad, dad, mum and I. The excitement I felt was that I was going to see my grandparents who I loved dearly. They were the typical looking grandparents, granddad had the whitest hair and the longest beard, grandma was a cute small framed woman, both very loving.
I remembered them from my holidays when I was little and remembered granddad had a church in his garden and he was a preacher. I had a great idea when we were told in woodwork at school to think of something and make it… I was going to make a granddad a book rack to rest his bible on.
It was great being back, the smell of the humidity when the plane doors opened was just intoxicating. The drive was always early evening so the air was always filled with cooking from the doubles stalls, restaurants and homes.
The capital is Port of Spain, and that’s where we stayed, well where we were based as we had lots of family and friends to visit. The day came for us to travel down south deep in the countryside to visit my grandparents. They were just as I remembered. I proudly presented the varnished book rack to granddad and he loved it. It was the first thing I ever made in woodwork.
At the back of the house was land as far as my eyes could see, filled with coffee bean and cocoa trees and it all belonged to our family. There was also chicken and duck pens (I thought they were pets!) It was quite humorous brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth out the window and watching the ducks and chickens quickly ran to gobble up the minty water…quite disgusting actually, there was no sink! The house was a board house and we washed in the yard surrounded by galvanise. The toilet…well… it was what they called a latrine, a galvanised little space with a boxed seat to sit on. It stunk to high heaven, I’m sure the excretions from my forefathers were in there. In the night time you had to take a flash light. As soon as the light shone in there its like it came alive with movements, cockroaches, lizards moths and other unknown insects scarpered everywhere. That was it for me, as big as I was I used the bed pan to urinate and mum or dad took it outside to empty it in there, for love or for money I wasn’t entering there again. My stomach froze for any bowel movement, I didn’t go for a week.
Sunday, the best day as Sunday dinner was like Christmas dinner and my grandma had the sweetest hand when it came to seasoning and cooking. She asked me what i’d like for dinner and I said ‘chicken.’ Grandma said chicken it is. I was looking forward to going to the supermarket with her as I was hoping to get some rhubarb sweets also.
I waited and waited so went to see what was taking gran so long to get ready. There she was in the chicken pen with a long cutlass in her hand. She grabbed a chicken and put it on the sale, obviously not pleased she let it go and caught another one. Pleased she came out of the pen. I was still clueless to what was about to happen I just thought it all comical. Then the bucket was over the body of the chicken with its head and neck sticking out and before I could think the next thought the cutlass came swiftly down and there was a bloody headless chicken running aimlessly around the yard, Well I screamed with my mouth opened for the longest while catching flies. Grandma why did you do that whyyyy??? She laughed at me as she thought my reaction was quite comical and said ‘ but is you who tell me yuh want chicken,’ Well I didn’t mean for you to kill one of your pets I thought we were going to the shops,’ gran replied still chuckling, ‘so where the chicken come from in the supermarket?!’ What a revelation that was. I watched grandma soak it and pluck it, wash it down with lemon and seasoned it with fresh seasoning of herbs and spices. The smell soon made me forget the trauma for a while. Her cooking smelt so delicious I was so hungry and couldn’t wait.
Dinner was ready and I was told to find granddad and tell him. I looked everywhere, finally I found him in his little church. Something felt so wrong as I saw a woman laying on top of a table on her back…naked! I couldn’t move. He was dressed in a white robe and rubbing her down. He must’ve sensed me there and came from behind the see through curtain which resembled a mosquito net, I mumbled in a low voice ‘grandma says dinner is ready,’ He said thank you, don’t be frightened, i’m just giving this lady a spiritual bath to cleanse her ( well I guess that made sense, she was naked, he’s a preacher, he smelled of fragrant oils)… ‘Come and give granddad a kiss’ his arms held out, I smiled and walked towards him, I just loved my granddad and didn’t question what he said. He leaned towards me and thinking he was going to kiss my cheek, I raised my head up and he went to my mouth and stuck his huge tongue in it and twiddled it around. I near jumped out my skin and ran out the church for dear life. I could hear him calling out ‘it was just a game, grandpa only playin chile.’ Playing!… What the heck… GRANDDAD!!!! MY BELOVED GRANDAD
My world crashed, the feeling has stayed in my mouth even up to this day. I went under the house, sat on the bench and squeezed the tears in and rocked with my hands folded around me squeezing in the sounds of my innermost sobbing. How on earth was I going to tell, who was I going to tell?? Who would believe me? My smile vanished, my happiness left me. Gods eyes didn’t see this little sparrow, He didn’t watch over me. The song in my spirit fell silent. I was alone.
I sat at dinner my appetite gone and I just played with my food. Trouble is mum was a stickler in children must eat all our food up, she hated waste. Darling grandma stuck up for me and said she gave me too much and to leave de chile alone. Granddad approached where we were eating and I quickly asked to be excused. How could I love him again, Thankfully we were to leave the next day I couldn’t face him again.
As we got ready to leave my parents kept prodding me to go give granddad a hug and a kiss goodbye, they couldn’t understand why all of a sudden my countenance changed. reluctantly I gave him the quickest hug and said bye. I explained I just felt unwell, thankfully mum put it down to not opening my bowels for just over a week. Thank God. My grandma joked that she promised to build a proper toilet just for me by the time I came back to visit, that made me smile. But the last thing I wanted was to come back. Life was not good, at 13 years old it was dark, horrid, ugly, filthy and lonely.